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Sea StoriesThe Wrecked Seamen
The annexed thrilling sketch is extracted from the "L...
The Lost Sheep
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The Loss Of The Peggy
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Burning Of The Prince A French East Indiaman
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Fate Of The Castaways
My first determination was to seek a supply of breadfruit and water at
Tofoa, and afterwards to sail for Tongataboo, and there risk a
solicitation to Poulaho, the king, to equip our boat, and grant us a
supply of water and provisions, so as to enable us to reach the East
Indies. The quantity of provisions I found in the boat was a hundred and
fifty pounds of bread, sixteen pieces of pork, each piece weighing two
pounds, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine, with twenty-eight gallons
of water, and four empty barrecoes.
We got to Tofoa when it was dark, but found the shore so steep and rocky
that we could not land. We were obliged, therefore, to remain all night
in the boat, keeping it on the lee-side of the island, with two oars.
Next day (Wednesday, April 29) we found a cove, where we landed. I
observed the latitude of this cove to be 19 degrees 41 minutes south.
This is the northwest part of Tofoa, the north-westernmost of the
Friendly Islands. As I was resolved to spare the small stock of
provisions we had in the boat, we endeavored to procure something towards
our support on the island itself. For two days we ranged through the
island in parties, seeking for water, and anything in the shape of
provisions, subsisting, meanwhile, on morsels of what we had brought with
us. The island at first seemed uninhabited, but on Friday, May 1, one of
our exploring parties met with two men, a woman, and a child: the men
came with them to the cove, and brought two cocoanut shells of water. I
endeavored to make friends of these people, and sent them away for
bread-fruit, plantains, and water. Soon after, other natives came to us;
and by noon there were thirty about us, from whom we obtained a small
supply. I was much puzzled in what manner to account to the natives for
the loss of my ship: I knew they had too much sense to be amused with a
story that the ship was to join me, when she was not in sight from the
hills. I was at first doubtful whether I should tell the real fact, or
say that the ship had overset and sunk, and that we only were saved: the
latter appeared to be the most proper and advantageous for us, and I
accordingly instructed my people, that we might all agree in one story.
As I expected, inquiries were made about the ship, and they seemed
readily satisfied with our account; but there did not appear the least
symptom of joy or sorrow in their faces, although I fancied I discovered
some marks of surprise. Some of the natives were coming and going the
Towards evening, I had the satisfaction to find our stock of provisions
somewhat increased; but the natives did not appear to have much to spare.
What they brought was in such small quantities, that I had no reason to
hope we should be able to procure from them sufficient to stock us for
our voyage. At night, I served a quarter of a breadfruit and a cocoanut
to each person for supper; and a good fire being made, all but the watch
went to sleep.
_Saturday, 2d._--As there was no certainty of our being supplied with
water by the natives, I sent a party among the gullies in the mountains,
with empty shells, to see what could be found. In their absence the
natives came about us, as I expected, and in greater numbers; two canoes
also came in from round the north side of the island. In one of them was
an elderly chief, called Macca-ackavow. Soon after, some of our foraging
party returned, and with them came a good-looking chief, called
Egijeefow, or Eefow.
Their affability was of short duration, for the natives began to increase
in number, and I observed some symptoms of a design against us. Soon
after, they attempted to haul the boat on shore, on which I brandished my
cutlass in a threatening manner, and spoke to Eefow to desire them to
desist: which they did, and everything became quiet again. My people,
who had been in the mountains, now returned with about three gallons of
water. I kept buying up the little bread-fruit that was brought to us,
and likewise some spears to arm my men with, having only four cutlasses,
two of which were in the boat. As we had no means of improving our
situation, I told our people I would wait till sunset, by which time,
perhaps, something might happen in our favor; for if we attempted to go
at present, we must fight our way through, which we could do more
advantageously at night; and that, in the meantime, we would endeavor to
get off to the boat what we had bought. The beach was lined with the
natives, and we heard nothing but the knocking of stones together, which
they had in each hand. I knew very well this was the sign of an attack.
At noon I served a cocoanut and a bread-fruit to each person for dinner,
and gave some to the chiefs, with whom I continued to appear intimate and
friendly. They frequently importuned me to sit down, but I as constantly
refused; for it occurred both to Nelson and myself that they intended to
seize hold of me, if I gave them such an opportunity. Keeping,
therefore, constantly on our guard, we were suffered to eat our
uncomfortable meal in some quietness.
After dinner, we began, by little and little, to get our things into the
boat, which was a troublesome business, on account of the surf. I
carefully watched the motions of the natives, who continued to increase
in number; and found that, instead of their intention being to leave us,
fires were made, and places fixed on for their stay during the night.
Consultations were also held among them, and everything assured me we
should be attacked. I sent orders to the master that, when he saw us
coming down, he should keep the boat close to the shore, that we might
the more readily embark.
The sun was near setting when I gave the word, on which every person who
was on shore with me boldly took up his proportion of things and carried
them to the boat. The chiefs asked me if I would not stay with them all
night. I said "No, I never sleep out of my boat; but in the morning we
will again trade with you, and I shall remain till the weather is
moderate, that we may go, as we have agreed, to see Poulaho, at
Tongataboo." Macca-ackavow then got up and said, "You will not sleep on
shore, then, Mattie?" (which directly signifies, we will kill you); and
he left me. The onset was now preparing: every one, as I have described
before, kept knocking stones together; and Eefow quitted me. All but two
or three things were in the boat, when we walked down the beach, every
one in a silent kind of horror. We all got into the boat, except one
man, who, while I was getting on board, quitted it, and ran up the beach
to cast the stern-fast off, notwithstanding the master and others called
to him to return, while they were hauling me out of the water.
I was no sooner in the boat than the attack began by about two hundred
men; the unfortunate poor man who had run up the beach was knocked down,
and the stones flew like a shower of shot. Many Indians got hold of the
stern rope, and were near hauling the boat on shore, which they would
certainly have effected, if I had not had a knife in my pocket, with
which I cut the rope. We then hauled off to the grapnel, every one being
more or less hurt. At this time I saw five of the natives about the poor
man they had killed, and two of them were beating him about the head with
stones in their hands.
We had no time to reflect, for, to my surprise, they filled their canoes
with stones, and twelve men came off after us to renew the attack; which
they did so effectually, as to nearly disable us all. We were obliged to
sustain the attack without being able to return it, except with such
stones as lodged in the boat. I adopted the expedient of throwing
overboard some clothes, which, as I expected, they stopped to pick up;
and as it was by this time almost dark, they gave over the attack, and
returned towards the shore, leaving us to reflect on our unhappy
The poor man killed by the natives was John Norton: this was his second
voyage with me as a quarter-master, and his worthy character made me
lament his loss very much. He has left an aged parent, I am told, whom
We set our sails, and steered along shore by the west side of the island
of Tofoa, the wind blowing fresh from the eastward. My mind was employed
in considering what was best to be done, when I was solicited by all
hands to take them towards home; and when I told them that no hopes of
relief for us remained, except what might be found at New Holland, till I
came to Timor, a distance of full twelve hundred leagues, where there was
a Dutch settlement, but in what part of the Island I knew not, they all
agreed to live on one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water per
day. Therefore, after examining our stock of provisions, and
recommending to them, in the most solemn manner, not to depart from their
promise, we bore away across a sea where the navigation is but little
known, in a small boat, twenty-three feet long from stem to stern, deep
laden with eighteen men. I was happy, however, to see that every one
seemed better satisfied with our situation than myself.
Our stock of provisions consisted of about one hundred and fifty pounds
of bread, twenty-eight gallons of water, twenty pounds of pork, three
bottles of wine, and five quarts of rum. The difference between this and
the quantity we had on leaving the ship was principally owing to our loss
in the bustle and confusion of the attack. A few cocoanuts were in the
boat, and some bread-fruit, but the latter was trampled to pieces.
_Sunday, 3d._--At daybreak the gale increased; the sun rose very fiery
and red--a sure indication of a severe gale of wind. At eight it blew a
violent storm, and the sea ran very high, so that between the seas the
sail was becalmed, and when on the top of the sea, it was too much to
have set; but we could not venture to take in the sail, for we were in
very imminent danger and distress, the sea curling over the stern of the
boat, which obliged us to bail with all our might. A situation more
distressing has perhaps seldom been experienced.
Our bread was in bags, and in danger of being spoiled by the wet: to be
starved to death was inevitable, if this could not be prevented. I
therefore began to examine what clothes there were in the boat, and what
other things could be spared; and having determined that only two suits
should be kept for each person, the rest was thrown overboard, with some
rope and spare sails, which lightened the boat considerably, and we had
more room to bail the water out.
Fortunately the carpenter had a good chest in the boat, in which we
secured the bread the first favorable moment. His tool-chest also was
cleared, and the tools stowed in the bottom of the boat, so that this
became a second convenience.
I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person (for we were very wet and
cold), with a quarter of a bread-fruit, which was scarce eatable, for
dinner. Our engagement was now strictly to be carried into execution,
and I was fully determined to make our provisions last eight weeks, let
the daily proportion be ever so small.
_Monday, 4th._--At daylight our limbs were so benumbed, that we could
scarcely find the use of them. At this time I served a teaspoonful of
rum to each person, from which we all found great benefit. Just before
noon, we discovered a small flat island, of a moderate height, bearing
west-south-west four or five leagues. I observed our latitude to be 18
degrees 58 minutes south; our longitude was, by account, 3 degrees 4
minutes west from the island of Tofoa, having made a north 72 degrees
west course, distance ninety-five miles, since yesterday noon, I divided
five small cocoanuts for our dinner, and every one was satisfied. During
the rest of that day we discovered ten or twelve other islands, none of
which we approached. At night I served a few broken pieces of breadfruit
for supper, and performed prayers.
_Tuesday, 5th._--The night having been fair, we awoke after a tolerable
rest, and contentedly breakfasted on a few pieces of yams that were found
in the boat. After breakfast we examined our bread, a great deal of
which was damaged and rotten; this, nevertheless, we were glad to keep
for use. We passed two islands in the course of the day. For dinner I
served some of the damaged bread, and a quarter of a pint of water.
_Wednesday, 6th._--We still kept our course in the direction of the North
of New Holland, passing numerous islands of various sizes, at none of
which I ventured to land. Our allowance for the day was a quarter of a
pint of cocoanut milk, and the meat, which did not exceed two ounces to
each person. It was received very contentedly, but we suffered great
drought. To our great joy we hooked a fish, but we were miserably
disappointed by its being lost in trying to get it into the boat.
As our lodgings were very miserable, and confined for want of room, I
endeavored to remedy the latter defect by putting ourselves at watch and
watch; so that one-half always sat up while the other lay down on the
boat's bottom, or upon a chest, with nothing to cover us but the heavens.
Our limbs were dreadfully cramped, for we could not stretch them out; and
the nights were so cold, and we so constantly wet, that after a few
hours' sleep, we could scarcely move.
_Thursday, 7th._--Being very wet and cold, I served a spoonful of rum and
a morsel of bread for breakfast. We still kept sailing among the
islands, from one of which two large canoes put out in chase of us; but
we left them behind. Whether these canoes had any hostile intention
against us must remain a doubt: perhaps we might have benefited by an
intercourse with them; but, in our defenceless situation, to have made
the experiment would have been risking too much.
I imagine these to be the islands called Feejee, as their extent,
direction, and distance from the Friendly Islands answer to the
description given of them by those islanders. Heavy rain came on at four
o'clock, when every person did their utmost to catch some water, and we
increased our stock to thirty-four gallons, besides quenching our thirst
for the first time since we had been at sea; but an attendant consequence
made us pass the night very miserably, for, being extremely wet, and
having no dry things to shift or cover us, we experienced cold shiverings
scarcely to be conceived. Most fortunately for us, the forenoon, Friday
8th, turned out fair, and we stripped and dried our clothes. The
allowance I issued to-day was an ounce and a half of pork, a teaspoonful
of rum, half a pint of cocoanut milk, and an ounce of bread. The rum,
though so small in quantity, was of the greatest service. A fishing-line
was generally towing from the stern of the boat, but though we saw great
numbers of fish, we could never catch one.
In the afternoon we cleaned out the boat, and it employed us till sunset
to get everything dry and in order. Hitherto I had issued the allowance
by guess, but I now made a pair of scales with two cocoanut shells, and
having accidentally some pistol-balls in the boat, twenty-five of which
weighed one pound, or sixteen ounces, I adopted one ball as the
proportion of weight that each person should receive of bread at the
times I served it. I also amused all hands with describing the situation
of New Guinea and New Holland, and gave them every information in my
power, that, in case any accident happened to me, those who survived
might have some idea of what they were about, and be able to find their
way to Timor, which at present they knew nothing of more than the name,
and some not even that. At night I served a quarter of a pint of water
and half an ounce of bread for supper.
_Saturday, 9th._--About nine in the evening the clouds began to gather,
and we had a prodigious fall of rain, with severe thunder and lightning.
By midnight we caught about twenty gallons of water. Being miserably wet
and cold, I served to the people a teaspoonful of rum each, to enable
them to bear with their distressed situation. The weather continued
extremely bad, and the wind increased; we spent a very miserable night,
without sleep, except such as could be got in the midst of rain. The day
brought no relief but its light. The sea broke over us so much, that two
men were constantly bailing; and we had no choice how to steer, being
obliged to keep before the waves, for fear of the boat filling.
The allowance now regularly served to each person was 1-25th of a pound
of bread, and a quarter of a pint of water, at eight in the morning, at
noon, and at sunset. To-day I gave about half an ounce of pork for
dinner, which, though any moderate person would have considered only as a
mouthful, was divided into three or four.
All Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the wet
weather continued, with heavy seas and squalls. As there was no prospect
of getting our clothes dried, my plan was to make every one strip, and
wring them through the salt water, by which means they received a warmth
that, while wet with rain, they could not have. We were constantly
shipping seas and bailing, and were very wet and cold during the night.
The sight of the islands which we were always passing served only to
increase the misery of our situation. We were very little better than
starving, with plenty in view; yet to attempt procuring any relief was
attended with so much danger, that prolonging of life, even in the midst
of misery, was thought preferable, while there remained hopes of being
able to surmount our hardships. For my own part, I consider the general
run of cloudy weather to be a blessing of Providence. Hot weather would
have caused us to have died with thirst, and probably being so constantly
covered with rain or sea protected us from that dreadful calamity.
_Saturday, 16th._--The sun breaking out through the clouds gave us hopes
of drying our wet clothes; but the sunshine was of short duration. We
had strong breezes at south-east by south, and dark gloomy weather, with
storms of thunder, lightning, and rain. The night was truly horrible,
and not a star to be seen, so that our steerage was uncertain.
_Sunday, 17th._--At dawn of day I found every person complaining, and
some of them solicited extra allowance, which I positively refused. Our
situation was miserable; always wet, and suffering extreme cold during
the night, without the least shelter from the weather. Being constantly
obliged to bail, to keep the boat from filling, was perhaps not to be
reckoned an evil as it gave us exercise.
The little rum we had was of great service. When our nights were
particularly distressing, I generally served a teaspoonful or two to each
person; and it was always joyful tidings when they heard of my intentions.
The night was dark and dismal, the sea constantly breaking over us, and
nothing but the wind and waves to direct our steerage. It was my
intention, if possible, to make to New Holland, to the southwest of
Endeavor Straits, being sensible that it was necessary to preserve such a
situation as would make a southerly wind a fair one; that we might range
along the reefs till an opening should be found into smooth water, and we
the sooner be able to pick up some refreshments.
Monday and Tuesday were terrible days, heavy rain with lightning. We
were always bailing. On Wednesday the 20th, at dawn of day, some of my
people seemed half dead. Our appearance was horrible, and I could look
no way but I caught the eye of some one in distress. Extreme hunger was
now too evident; but no one suffered from thirst, nor had we much
inclination to drink--that desire, perhaps, being satisfied through the
skin. The little sleep we got was in the midst of water, and we
constantly awoke with severe cramps and pains in our bones.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we were in the same distressed condition,
and I began to fear that such another night or two would put an end to
us. On Saturday, however, the wind moderated in the evening, and the
weather looked much better, which rejoiced all hands, so that they ate
their scanty allowance with more satisfaction than for some time past.
The night also was fair; but being always wet with the sea, we suffered
much from the cold.
_Sunday, 24th._--A fine morning, I had the pleasure to see produce some
cheerful countenances; and the first time, for fifteen days past, we
experienced comfort from the warmth of the sun. We stripped, and hung
our clothes up to dry, which were by this time become so threadbare, that
they would not keep out either wet or cold.
This afternoon we had many birds about us which are never seen far from
land, such as boobies and noddies. As the sea began to run fair, and we
shipped but little water, I took the opportunity to examine into the
state of our bread, and found that, according to the present mode of
issuing, there was a sufficient quantity remaining for twenty-nine days'
allowance, by which time I hoped we should be able to reach Timor; but as
this was very uncertain, and it was possible that, after all, we might be
obliged to go to Java, I determined to proportion the allowance so as to
make our stock hold out six weeks. I was apprehensive that this would be
ill received, and that it would require my utmost resolution to enforce
it; for small as the quantity was which I intended to take away for our
future good, yet it might appear to my people like robbing them of life;
and some, who were less patient than their companions, I expected would
very ill brook it. However, on my representing the necessity of guarding
against delays that might be occasioned in our voyage by contrary winds
or other causes, and promising to enlarge upon the allowance as we got
on, they cheerfully agreed to my proposal. It was accordingly settled
that every person should receive 1-25th of a pound of bread for
breakfast, and the same quantity for dinner; so that, by omitting the
proportion for supper, we had forty-three days' allowance.
_Monday, 25th._--At noon some noddies came so near to us, that one of
them was caught by hand. This bird was about the size of a small pigeon.
I divided it, with its entrails, into eighteen portions and by a
well-known method at sea, of "Who shall have this?"  it was
distributed, with the allowance of bread and water for dinner, and ate
up, bones and all, with salt water for sauce. I observed the latitude 13
degrees 32 minutes south; longitude made 35 degrees 19 minutes west,
course north 89 degrees west, distance one hundred and eight miles.
In the evening, several boobies flying very near to us, we had the good
fortune to catch one of them. This bird is as large as a duck. I
directed the bird to be killed for supper, and the blood to be given to
three of the people who were most distressed for want of food. The body,
with the entrails, beak, and feet, I divided into eighteen shares, and,
with an allowance of bread, which I made a merit of granting, we made a
good supper, compared with our usual fare.
Sailing on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I at length became satisfied
that we were approaching New Holland. This was actually the case; and
after passing the reefs which bound that part of the coast, we found
ourselves in smooth water. Two islands lay about four miles to the west
by north, and appeared eligible for a resting-place, if for nothing more;
but on our approach to the nearest island, it proved to be only a heap of
stones, and its size too inconsiderable to shelter the boat. We
therefore proceeded to the next, which was close to it, and towards the
main. We landed to examine if there were any signs of the natives being
near us: we saw some old fireplaces, but nothing to make me apprehend
that this would be an unsafe situation for the night. Every one was
anxious to find something to eat and it was soon discovered that there
were oysters on these rocks, for the tide was out; but it was nearly
dark, and only a few could be gathered. I determined, therefore, to wait
till the morning, when I should know better how to proceed.
_Friday, 29th._--As there were no appearances to make me imagine that any
of the natives were near us, I sent out parties in search of supplies,
while others of the people were putting the boat in order. The parties
returned, highly rejoiced at having found plenty of oysters and fresh
water. I had also made a fire by the help of a small magnifying glass;
and, what was still more fortunate, we found among a few things which had
been thrown into the boat, and saved, a piece of brimstone and a
tinder-box, so that I secured fire for the future.
One of the people had been so provident as to bring away with him from
the ship a copper pot: by being in possession of this article, we were
enabled to make a proper use of the supply we now obtained; for, with a
mixture of bread, and a little pork, we made a stew that might have been
relished by people of far more delicate appetites, and of which each
person received a full pint. The general complaints of disease among us
were a dizziness in the head, great weakness of the joints, and violent
The oysters which we found grew so fast to the rocks, that it was with
difficulty they could be broken off, and at length we discovered it to be
the most expeditious way to open them where they were fixed. They were
of a good size, and well tasted. To add to this happy circumstance, in
the hollow of the land there grew some wire-grass, which indicated a
moist situation. On forcing a stick about three feet long into the
ground, we found water, and with little trouble dug a well, which
produced as much as our necessities required.
As the day was the anniversary of the restoration of King Charles II., I
named the island Restoration Island. Our short stay there, with the
supplies which it afforded us, made a visible alteration for the better
in our appearance. Next day, Saturday the 30th, at four o'clock, we were
preparing to embark, when about twenty of the natives appeared, running
and hallooing to us, on the opposite shore. They were each armed with a
spear or lance, and a short weapon which they carried in their left hand.
They made signs for us to come to them, but I thought it prudent to make
the best of our way. They were naked, and apparently black, and their
hair or wool bushy and short.
_Sunday, 31st._--Many small islands were in sight to the northeast. We
landed at one of a good height, bearing north one-half west. The shore
was rocky, but the water was smooth, and we landed without difficulty. I
sent two parties out, one to the northward, and the other to the
southward, to seek for supplies, and others I ordered to stay by the
boat. On this occasion fatigue and weakness so far got the better of
their sense of duty, that some of the people expressed their discontent
at having worked harder than their companions, and declared that they
would rather be without their dinner than go in search of it. One
person, in particular, went so far as to tell me, with a mutinous look,
that he was as good a man as myself. It was not possible for me to judge
where this might have an end, if not stopped in time; therefore, to
prevent such disputes in future, I determined either to preserve my
command, or die in the attempt; and seizing a cutlass, I ordered him to
take hold of another and defend himself, on which he called out that I
was going to kill him, and immediately made concessions. I did not allow
this to interfere further with the harmony of the boat's crew and
everything soon became quiet. We here procured some oysters and clams,
also some dog-fish caught in the holes of the rocks, and a supply of
Leaving this island, which I named Sunday Island, we continued our course
towards Endeavor Straits. During our voyage Nelson became very ill, but
gradually recovered. Next day we landed at another island, to see what
we could get. There were proofs that the island was occasionally visited
by natives from New Holland. Encamping on the shore, I sent out one
party to watch for turtle, and another to try to catch birds. About
midnight the bird party returned, with only twelve noddies, birds which I
have already described to be about the size of pigeons; but if it had not
been for the folly and obstinacy of one of the party, who separated from
the other two, and disturbed the birds, they might have caught a great
number. I was so much provoked at my plans being thus defeated, that I
gave this offender a good beating. This man afterwards confessed that,
wandering away from his companions, he had eaten nine birds raw. Our
turtling party had no success.
Tuesday and Wednesday we still kept our course northwest, touching at an
island or two for oysters and clams. We had now been six days on the
coast of New Holland, and but for the refreshment which our visit to its
shore afforded us, it is all but certain that we must have perished.
Now, however, it became clear that we were leaving it behind, and were
commencing our adventurous voyage through the open sea to Timor.
On Wednesday, June 3rd, at eight o'clock in the evening, we once more
launched into the open ocean. Miserable as our situation was in every
respect, I was secretly surprised to see that it did not appear to affect
any one so strongly as myself. I encouraged every one with hopes that
eight or ten days would bring us to a land of safety; and after praying
to God for a continuance of His most gracious protection, I served an
allowance of water for supper, and directed our course to the
west-south-west, to counteract the southerly winds in case they should
blow strong. For six days our voyage continued; a dreary repetition of
those sufferings which we had experienced before reaching New Holland.
In the course of the night we were constantly wet with the sea, and
exposed to cold and shiverings; and in the daytime we had no addition to
our scanty allowance, save a booby and a small dolphin that we caught,
the former on Friday the 5th, and the latter on Monday the 8th. Many of
us were ill, and the men complained heavily. On Wednesday the 10th,
after a very comfortless night, there was a visible alteration for the
worse in many of the people, which gave me great apprehensions. An
extreme weakness, swelled legs, hollow and ghastly countenances, a more
than common inclination to sleep, with an apparent debility of
understanding, seemed to me the melancholy presages of an approaching
_Thursday, 11th._--Every one received the customary allowance of bread
and water, and an extra allowance of water was given to those who were
most in need. At noon I observed in latitude 9 degrees 41 minutes south;
course south 77 degrees west, distance 109 miles; longitude made 13
degrees 49 minutes west. I had little doubt of having now passed the
meridian of the eastern part of Timor, which is laid down in 128 degrees
east. This diffused universal joy and satisfaction.
_Friday, 12th._--At three in the morning, with an excess of joy, we
discovered Timor bearing from west-south-west to west-north-west, and I
hauled on a wind to the north-north-east till daylight, when the land
bore from south-west by south to north-east by north; our distance from
the shore two leagues. It is not possible for me to describe the
pleasure which the blessing of the sight of this land diffused among us.
It appeared scarcely credible to ourselves that, in an open boat, and so
poorly provided, we should have been able to reach the coast of Timor in
forty-one days after leaving Tofoa, having in that time run, by our log,
a distance of 3,618 miles and that, notwithstanding our extreme distress,
no one should have perished in the voyage.
I have already mentioned that I knew not where the Dutch settlement was
situated, but I had a faint idea that it was at the south-west part of
the island. I therefore, after daylight, bore away along shore to the
south-south-west, which I was the more readily induced to do, as the wind
would not suffer us to go towards the north-east without great loss of
We coasted along the island in the direction in which I conceived the
Dutch settlement to lie, and next day, about two o'clock, I came to a
grapnel in a small sandy bay, where we saw a hut, a dog, and some cattle.
Here I learned that the Dutch governor resided at a place called Coupang,
which was some distance to the north-east. I made signs for one of the
Indians who came to the beach to go in the boat and show us the way to
Coupang, intimating that I would pay him for his trouble; the man readily
complied, and came into the boat. The Indians, who were of a dark tawny
color, brought us a few pieces of dried turtle and some ears of Indian
corn. This last was the most welcome, for the turtle was so hard, that
it could not be eaten without being first soaked in hot water. They
offered to bring us some other refreshments, if I would wait; but, as the
pilot was willing, I determined to push on. It was about half-past four
when we sailed.
_Sunday, 14th._--At one o'clock in the morning, after the most happy and
sweet sleep that ever men enjoyed, we weighed, and continued to keep the
east shore on board, in very smooth water. The report of two cannon that
were fired gave new life to every one; and soon after, we discovered two
square-rigged vessels and a cutter at anchor to the eastward. After hard
rowing, we came to a grapnel near daylight, off a small fort and town,
which the pilot told me was Coupang.
On landing, I was surrounded by many people, Indians and Dutch, with an
English sailor among them. A Dutch captain, named Spikerman, showed me
great kindness, and waited on the governor, who was ill, to know at what
time I could see him. Eleven o'clock having been appointed for the
interview, I desired my people to come on shore, which was as much as
some of them could do, being scarce able to walk; they, however, were
helped to Captain Spikerman's house, and found tea, with bread and
butter, provided for their breakfast.
The abilities of a painter, perhaps, could seldom have been displayed to
more advantage than in the delineation of the two groups of figures which
at this time presented themselves to each other. An indifferent
spectator would have been at a loss which most to admire--the eyes of
famine sparkling at immediate relief, or the horror of their preservers
at the sight of so many spectres, whose ghastly countenances, if the
cause had been unknown, would rather have excited terror than pity. Our
bodies were nothing but skin and bone, our limbs were full of sores, and
we were clothed in rags: in this condition, with tears of joy and
gratitude flowing down our cheeks, the people of Timor beheld us with a
mixture of horror, surprise, and pity.
The governor, Mr. William Adrian Van Este, notwithstanding extreme ill
health, became so anxious about us, that I saw him before the appointed
time. He received me with great affection, and gave me the fullest
proofs that he was possessed of every feeling of a humane and good man.
Though his infirmity was so great that he could not do the office of a
friend himself, he said he would give such orders as I might be certain
would procure us every supply we wanted. A house should be immediately
prepared for me, and with respect to my people, he said that I might have
room for them either at the hospital or on board of Captain Spikerman's
ship, which lay in the road. . . .
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